Two French soldiers killed in rescue of four hostages in West Africa

epa05701605 French Special Forces soldiers with their equipment pose in front of the back ramp od an Airbus A400M at the Air Force Base 118 in Mont de Marsan, near Bordeaux, France, during a visit of the French President, 06 January 2017. It is the first time that President Hollande pays a visit to the aviation camp, one of the two largest French bases. It is also the penultimate time that Hollande presents his New Year wishes as head of state ahead of the first and second rounds for the next elections that will be held on 23 April and 07 June 2017. EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG / POOL MAXPPP OUT

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Two French soldiers were killed in an operation to rescue four hostages in the Sahel region of Africa, France said on Friday, adding that the hostages, including a U.S. woman, a South Korean citizen and two Frenchmen, were now safe.

Two French tourists were kidnapped during a safari in Benin last week, and their local guide found dead.

Their liberation was made possible by a military operation led by French forces overnight from Thursday to Friday in northern Burkina Faso,” the Élysée Palace said in a statement.

The Élysée identified the two special forces soldiers who were killed during the mission as Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello, both petty officers under the command of special operations.

French authorities feared the worst when the body of a Benin tour guide was found in Pendjari National Park and the two French tourists with him, Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, were kidnapped.

Benin is considered an island of stability in West Africa, a troubled region where many jihadist groups operate, but Pendjari lies on the porous and remote border with Burkina Faso, which has been hard hit by militant violence.

Via Euronews / France 24

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